Asbury Park African American Music Heritage Project: Dee, Cliff & Al Tribute

Through the Asbury Park African American Music Heritage Project, the Asbury Park Public Library and project partners are shining a light on the music and cultural heritage of Springwood Avenue through oral histories, research, writing, and programs. The larger than life personalities and homegrown musical talent are unique to this city by the sea but the stories reveal historical narratives shared with African American communities across the nation.
We celebrate these three phenomenal musicians, whose careers intersected on Springwood Avenue, as representatives of the local talent that inspired generations of music in the shore region and way beyond.

Dolores “Dee” Holland (Piano)
Dee Holland was born in 1923 in Neptune, New Jersey. She began playing piano at the age of three. She began performing in Asbury Park with local musicians as a teenager, and enjoyed a 41-year career with the federal government. Dee has continued to perform locally on Springwood Avenue, in churches, and throughout the Jersey Shore.

Clifford “Cliff” Johnson (Saxophone)
Cliff Johnson was born in 1925 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. He began playing the saxophone at age 12, and began performing with local musicians at age 14. He was a member and leader of groups such as the Squires of Rhythm, the Don Linton Orchestra, and the Mod Five. Cliff performed in every club on Springwood Avenue, and was also among the first local black musicians to perform in Convention Hall in Asbury Park.

Alford “Al” Griffin (Drums)
Al Griffin was born in 1929 in the apartment above his family business in Asbury Park, New Jersey. At age fourteen, he started playing the drums and began performing with local musicians such as Dee Holland and Cliff Johnson on Springwood Avenue. He has performed all over the world with performers such as Dinah Washington, Milt Buckner, and Eddie Chamblee at venues such as the Apollo Theater (NYC) and the Fontainebleau (Miami, FL).

Funding has been made possible in part by the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of Cultural Affairs within the Department of State. For more information about the Asbury Park African American Music Heritage Project, please contact Jennifer Souder: wardjennifer77@gmail.com